Prescription drug addiction to medications such as Vicodin, OxyContin and other painkillers is the fastest growing substance abuse problems in the United States.
In fact, of the 20.5 million Americans 12 and older with a substance use disorder, over 2 million are addicted to opioid painkillers.1 Prescribing rates have more than doubled since 1999 and lethal opioid overdose death rates now surpass heroin overdose rates — more than 33,000 of the 52,404 lives lost to overdose in 2015.2 That number is rising, even as you’re reading this.
Now, more than ever, it is important to understand the considerable risks associated with Vicodin abuse. Because knowing might help you or your loved one avoid becoming another tragic statistic.
Risks and Dangers of Vicodin Dependency
One of the more insidious aspects of Vicodin addiction is how quickly individuals develop a tolerance to the drug. That means the longer an individual takes Vicodin, the more of the drug it takes to achieve the desired euphoric effect. As a result, individuals will fall deeper and deeper into the cycle of addiction as time goes on.
There are a variety of serious side effects associated with long-term Vicodin addiction, including: damage to the liver, severe mood swings, depression and a variety of withdrawal symptoms when the individual stops taking the drug.
The opiate-based drug Vicodin (also known by its generic name, Hydrocodone) is a highly addictive substance. Even those individuals who take the drug as prescribed by a doctor run the risk of developing a dependence on it.Women are especially vulnerable to addiction, as they are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed prescription pain relievers, be given higher doses, and use them for longer time periods than men. Women may become dependent on prescription pain relievers more quickly than men.3
Like any illicit drug, Vicodin can be deadly if too much of it is consumed. Every year, hospital emergency rooms admit individuals who have overdosed on Hydrocodone — many of whom never recover. Many people simply do not understand their limits or the power of Vicodin. In fact, many addiction experts compare the nature of Vicodin dependence to Heroin addiction.
Loss of Self-Control
Individuals who engage in OxyContin abuse are prone to serious lapses in self-control. The individual will, simply put, do anything and everything they can to obtain more of the drug. This puts them at risk for a variety of criminal and unethical behaviors, including:
- Stealing money and material items from friends and loved ones in order to support their habit
- Stealing drugs from the medicine cabinets of friends and loved ones
- “Doctor shopping,” going to different physicians and lying about medical conditions in order to obtain more Vicodin.
- Forging prescriptions to fraudulently receive more Hydrocodone.
- Breaking and entering into pharmacies.
Getting Help for Vicodin Abuse
Anyone who is dependent on Vicodin is urged to seek professional help in the form of drug rehab. Both residential and outpatient drug rehab facilities treat the psychological and physical aspects of Vicodin addiction.
Michael’s House helps treat individuals who have seen their lives spiral out of control as a result of Vicodin addiction. Our caring professionals can help you or your loved one overcome the physical addiction, as well as develop strategies for ongoing sobriety and success. Contact Michael’s House today at 760-548-4032 for more information.
1 “Opioid Addiction: 2016 Facts & Figures.” American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). N.d. Accessed 14 March 2018.
2 Kounang, Nadia. “U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Reach New Record High.” 8 August 2017.
3 Prescription Painkiller Overdoses: A Growing Epidemic, Especially Among Women. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2013.